January 28, 2020

Psy Street Kitchen Brings Hip Kosher Vibes to Pico-Robertson

From left: Psy Street Kitchen Head Chef Uzi Wizman and his business partner, Avi Alkobi. Photo by Ryan Torok

Graffiti-style artwork of burgers and vegetables floating in outer space decorate the walls of Psy Street Kitchen, the newest addition to the Pico-Robertson kosher restaurant scene, where 20-something employees dressed in black T’s, skinny jeans and sneakers serve customers over the soundtrack of chill beats.

Psy Street Kitchen is the brainchild of head chef Uzi Wizman, his wife, Gal Ben Goya, and his tattooed, tzitzit-wearing partner, Avi Alkobi. The Pico-Robertson branch is their second location, and opened last month. The original restaurant opened in Sherman Oaks in 2017. 

The versatile menu includes “crunchy shroom”  — a deep-fried portobello mushroom with barbecue sauce and tahini; a beef burger with brisket served with a vegan pretzel-challah bun (the bun was created by Wizman and Dan Messinger of Bibi’s Bakery); a white-and-red cabbage salad with sour vinaigrette; and barbecued wings. 

With a long, dark ponytail more Dothraki fighter than kosher restaurateur, Wizman said that those seeking a more conventional pita and hummus experience best go elsewhere.

“We’ve tried to do something different,” the 27-year-old Israeli native said. “You can find hummus and falafel anywhere. We try to mix Israeli cuisine and American cuisine. This is the idea behind the concept.”

Growing up in the Israeli neighborhood of Kiryat Motzkin near Haifa, Wizman spent three years as a chef in the Israel Defense Forces, an experience he called “nice, but I’m not going to do it again,” and he worked with Israeli chefs including Meir Adoni.

The Psy Street Kitchen classic beef burger is one of the many items on the restaurant’s all-kosher menu. Photo by Ryan Torok

His Moroccan-Israeli parents, especially his mother, were culinary influences. To this day, Wizman calls them whenever he tries a new food that excites him. “When I eat something good I tell my mom and dad about it,” he said. “We talk every day.”

Wizman moved to L.A. from Israel in 2016 to work with the Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. It helped him build a deeper appreciation for Asian fusion that he incorporates into his personal cooking. “It was a good chance for me to learn about his genius,” Wizman said, adding, “I love Japanese food. It’s the best.” 

He spent five months with Matsuhisa before opening Psy Street in Sherman Oaks, and customers encouraged the Israeli couple to open a second location in Pico-Robertson. 

The Pico-Robertson site also has a unique addition: a female onsite kitchen inspector (mashgicha) — Chaya Soleimani. Soleimani also has her own dessert on the specials menu: Chaya’s bread pudding and non-dairy ice cream.

The Pay Street Kitchen staff, including head chef Uzi Wizman (third from left) and his business partner, Avi Alkobi (fourth from left), at the Pico-Robertson location. Photo by Ryan Torok

“Her passion for the kitchen and her ability to work hard gave her a respected position in our kitchen,” Ben Goya said. “Basically, Psy on Pico wouldn’t be the same without her.”

Wizman and Ben Goya live behind their restaurant in Sherman Oaks. When they aren’t working, they are at the beach with their dog enjoying Saturdays off, and Ben Goya is learning how to cook couscous from Wizman’s mother. 

Wizman hopes the youthful vibe of Psy Street will attract customers of all ages.  

A customer places an order at Psy Street Kitchen’s new Pico-Robertson location. Photo by Ryan Torok

“I believe if you bring the young crowd here,” he said, “the older crowd will come after them.”

Psy Street Kitchen in Pico-Robertson is located at 9407 W. Pico Blvd. and is open from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays. The Sherman Oaks location is located at 15030 Ventura Blvd. and is open from noon–9:30 p.m. Sundays; 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; and 11 a.m. to two hours before Shabbat on Fridays.